Anyone who has had the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 should not hesitate when it comes to getting their second dose no matter how old they are, Australia's chief medical advisers have said.
The Australian government made the third major adjustment to the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, following advice the AstraZeneca vaccine should now only be given to people aged 60 and over due to the risk of a rare but serious blood-clotting condition associated with the vaccine.
Around 3.8 million people have already received at least one AstraZeneca dose, and on Thursday chief medical officer Paul Kelly said the change in advice did not apply to those scheduled to have a second dose.
"Anyone who has had a first dose of AstraZeneca without problem should feel very confident to have their second dose - they should keep that booking," Professor Kelly said.
There have been no cases of side effects such as the blood-clotting condition that have been linked to second doses of AstraZeneca in Australia, he said.
"In the UK, they've had almost 16 million second doses of AstraZeneca and the rates of this particular rare but sometimes serious condition is much, much lower, around 1.5 [cases] per million, which is way lower than the first dose," he said.
There have been 60 cases of the blood-clotting condition associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia, of which 55 per cent have recovered, Professor Kelly said. Two people, including a 52-year-old woman last week, have died. Others remain in hospital, including some in intensive care.
In the ACT, 50- to 59-year-olds who have already had their first dose without any serious adverse events are being encouraged to attend their existing appointment.
Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy encouraged those over the age of 60 to continue to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying they had a one-in-10 chance of dying if they contracted COVID-19.
Sixty-four per cent of people over 70 had had their first dose, Professor Murphy said.
The decision on the risk profile for people aged between 50 and 59 changed after seven cases of the thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome detected in the last week pushed the rate to 2.7 in 100,000 doses.
For under 50s the rate was 3.1 per 100,000. But for those between 60 and 69 it was more rare, at 1.4 per 100,000.